But now, from John "I don't give a shit what you think about my movies" Waters, comes the siren call to all frustrated filmmakers and aficionados: Cecil B. DeMented, a warped and twisted tale of how far a filmmaker will go to create a personal vision of internal and social revolution.
Stephen Dorff, in a career-defining role, is Cecil B. DeMented, a crazed director devoted to making the most radical underground film. Together with his film production cult, the Sprocket Holes - who wear tattoos of Peckinpah, Lee, Fuller, Castle, Anger, Fassbinder, Preminger on various parts of their bodies as badges of honor, they kidnap a Hollywood movie starlet, played with perfect ridiculousness by Melaine Griffith, and force her to take the starring role in DeMented's film.
With no budget and no contracts for extras, DeMented and his crew take to the streets for production of Raving Beauty, a crass terrorist film about an angry owner of an independent theater and her brood out to destroy the mainstream film business. Using "ultimate reality" - with real bullets, real people, and real terror - DeMented and his crew of misfits attack a mall theater, terrorize the Maryland Film Commission and crash a movie studio shooting a certain sequel to a really annoying Tom Hanks film. Demented's crewmembers are maimed and killed, popcorn machines are used for target practice, and no one can have sex until the film is complete. It's like Bowfinger, only, you know, good.
The film moves with zigs and zags like the Magic Bullet of Kennedy's assassination. The zeal of DeMented's cause catches quickly and conveys the urgent message of "doing something, anything, for the accomplishment of artistic motivations." The crewmembers all hold the quirkiness common in Waters' previous films - Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Polyester, Pecker -- and speak in the choppy, jaded dialogue used frequently by Waters. It is as if Waters' script strips away the unnecessary dialogue common to most pretentious indie films and just delivers the goods.
Cecil takes such warped avenues of expression that it seems like it might actually outdo itself. You can see how a major studio might take this film, re-edit it, cut a deal with the remaining crew members who are still alive, and make a few sequels, a la The Blair Witch Project.
But that's for the future. Overall, the ride is fantastic; it's one of Waters' best films to date and this year's Fight Club for filmmakers. Fans of the film will certainly want to check out the DVD, which features a commentary track from Waters that's arguably better than the movie itself, plus a Comedy Central behind-the-scenes special about the making of the film.
Run time: 87 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 2nd August 2000
Distributed by: Artisan Entertainment
Production compaines: Artisan Entertainment, Artic Productions LLC
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 41 Rotten: 38
IMDB: 6.2 / 10
Director: John Waters
Screenwriter: John Waters
Starring: Melanie Griffith as Honey Whitlock, Stephen Dorff as Cecil, Alicia Witt as Cherish, Adrian Grenier as Lyle, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Lewis, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Raven, Jack Noseworthy as Rodney, Mink Stole as Mrs. Sylvia Mallory, Ricki Lake as Libby, Michael Shannon as Petie, Kevin Nealon as Kevin
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